Behave is the third book by Andromeda Romano-Lax. It’s a novelization of the experiments of real-life behaviorist psychologist, John Watson, and his second wife Rosalie Raymer Watson, on children, in which the pair tried to determine if fear behaviors are learned, or if they can be conditioned.
Watson’s most notorious experiment was on “little Albert”, a nine month old child who was psychologically tortured in the “name of science”. His assistant at the time, Rosalie Raymer, was a Vassar grad, enamored with John and his unorthodox methods of experimentation.
Partners in the Lab and in Love
After tearing apart their careers for an affair, John and Rosalie eventually marry and raise two boys in yet another experiment in parenting. Their book, Psychological Care of Infant and Child, was written by the Watsons during a time of experimentation on their own children. As the earliest model of detachment parenting, the Watsons gained a following of parents who were interested in not damaging children by pushing their own adult wants and desires onto their offspring
Behave is creepy but mostly true
Behave was an interesting sort of book. Not exactly a biography, but not exactly fiction either. I’d classify it as historical fiction. It’s also not a particularly easy book to read, as the experiments performed were psychologically damaging, nay, devastating, to all the children involved. I did enjoy Behave, as I’d done a bit of research into Watson’s experiments in an early childhood development. I was creeped out by the experiments then, and that Rosalie enthusiastically participated was even worse. However, after reading Behave, I did begin to emphasize with Rosalie a bit more. I know that it’s a fictional account of the goings on, but it did paint Rosalie in a more sympathetic light, defying John’s rules and schedules about how he desired the boys to be raised.
I’ll recommend it. Fans of historical fiction, psychology, child development, and fictional literature should enjoy it. I think students of most of the “soft sciences” should enjoy it, it does have that kind of appeal. Very solid 7 stars for the book.
- Andromeda Romano-Lax
- Print Length: 401 pages
- Publisher: Soho Press (March 1, 2016)
- Publication Date: March 1, 2016
- Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00Y6RKZ2Q
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